Once Bountiful, Nursing Jobs Now Harder To Find

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For a decade, nursing jobs were a hot commodity.

Many students coming out of nursing school felt they could immediately get jobs and go where they wanted.

Experts warned of a worsening shortage as a generation of nurses prepared to retire. Nationally 126,000 jobs were open and the state of Ohio was short 4,500.

Hospital systems responded to the shortage.

Mount Carmel increased enrollment at its nursing college. OhioHealth offered scholarships to employees who went to nursing school. OSU recruited nurses from abroad, and offered referral bonuses.

By 2007, so many applied for nursing schools that 7,000 Ohioans were turned away, and a new nursing college moved in.

Now nursing students say that many hospitals are tightening their requirements for hiring nurses.

"Two to three years experience required. One year experience required,” said Kirbie Hill, a nursing student at the Ohio State University.

"If every place is requiring that I have one to two years of experience, where am I going to get those one to two years?” added Kelsey Wincek, also an OSU nursing student.

Kelly Trautner of the Ohio Nurses Association said that the shortage hit sooner than expected.

"The nursing shortage which was anticipated to hit us much sooner has been stunted because of the economy,” said Trautner.

Trautner said that many nurses, who were going to retire, postponed their plans because of financial uncertainty.

She said that led to a lot of experienced hands in hospitals, but a job crunch for new nurses. The American Society for Registered Nurses found that 43 percent of new R.N.'s are jobless a year and half after graduating.  

It’s a concern for students like Hill who want a hospital job.

"I just want to be a floor nurse. I just want to. I want to work in pediatrics,” said Hill.

One of her classmates is looking for an internship to get a foot in the door.

"You can get six months to a year and a lot of them then require that you sign up for one to two years after,” said Wincek.

But Trautner said the job crunch won't last because of the new federal health care law.

"Hundreds of thousands of Americans who didn't formerly have access to health care are now going to become patients. They're going to need nurses,” said Trautner.

Trautner said there are jobs in nursing homes and clinics, but nurses who have a bachelor's degree instead of an associate’s degree have a better chance of landing a hospital job.

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